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ABOUT US

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ERIN STROH

ARTIST  | OWNER CHRYSALIS TRIBE

MY ARTIST JOURNEY

One of my favorite memories as a little girl was my dad taking me to a local bead store here in Seattle. I would walk the rows and look at all the big sparkling beads, all the colors. I could maybe afford a charm or two with my pocket change and my dad would show me to an enormous glass jar with a label on it that said, “Lucky Dips $1.” He would hand me a dollar and a small container. As he hoisted me up so I could reach in, I would dip my container in the jar and fill it with as many little colorful beads as I could. When we would get home, he would pull out some fishing line or sturdy cord and help me make bracelets. I still have the very first bracelet I ever made.

As I got a bit older, my mom fell ill and the days I would spend with her would require a lot of quiet time. She would plop me in front of a movie and a table full of craft projects. She would nap, and I would create. She was an amazing artist herself and I always imagined that one day, I would create things as beautiful and treasured as she did. 

 

When I grew up, I continued to create, but not with much passion or commitment behind it. I might make a gift for someone’s birthday, but I rarely gave much energy into creating. However, that would all change.

In 2011, I left a decade long dead-end career in the financial industry and my soul was aching for creative substance. I realized I had not been built for the typical 9-5 lifestyle and I had a story to tell. I had recently graduated from Earthwalk Institute of Healing Arts with certifications in bio-energetic and vibrational medicine and was convinced that I was going to open my own practice, which I did, and build a successful alternative medicine practice. After a short while, I found this was not the path for me. I had rented an expensive space in a bustling neighborhood of Seattle, but I struggled to keep the practice and myself afloat. In healing others, I had to accept that I still needed healing myself. 

 

I began revisiting my artwork and crafts as a means to supplement income. I participated in a few local Art Walk events and my practice slowly shifted. I began teaching jewelry classes at the former Fusion Beads in Seattle, just a short walk from the clinic where I held my practice. Eventually, I closed my practice space and dove headfirst into the world of jewelry. For a handful of years, I experimented and created with fervor and passion, taking classes and learning as much as I could. I participated in many fairs, art shows, festivals and even had an exhibit at the Seattle Center of Contemporary Art, or CoCA.

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I focused on producing as much jewelry as I could while learning about gems and metals. I still continued a small private healing practice out of my home, but was seeing fewer and fewer clients. My soul was beginning to feel whole and the creativity poured out. 

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I felt like the stones lead the way. As a practitioner, I often used items such as gemstones or bones as sacred ceremonial pieces, or for metaphysical and spiritual purposes. Then one day, a healing client brought a special stone from a loved one who had passed and asked me to create a grief piece for her- something to honor her loved one, but also bring her strength during her healing journey. The light came on and I stood in that moment embracing that THIS was my gift.

 

I haven’t stopped creating since. I am lucky to be surrounded by enthusiastic friends and family who have been incredibly supportive of this journey. My husband, CJ Villagran finally joined in the creative fun and has been one of the fastest learners I’ve ever seen. He began adding touches of chain maille and wire knits and we’ve had a lot of fun creating collaborative pieces for our collection. I am grateful that I have been able to share this life and creative journey with him. He has always been my biggest cheerleader. 

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